Information Technology and Systems in Organisations


Information Technology is advancing at a vibrant pace and a whole new world of opportunities are emerging, in terms of newer technologies. One such is the concept of Video Streaming, which is having new found repercussions in several fields. The technique of streaming live or recorded events for anyone to view is a fabulous idea which has gotten the attention of everyone, more so because of the fact that it can be viewed anywhere at any time and by anyone.

Video streaming is still in its nascent stage as far as the Healthcare industry is concerned and is still has a long way to go, before its entire outcome can be accurately grasped. This essay hopes to illuminate the reader on the existing uses of video streaming and the advancements made in the medical field, especially in remote surgeries and on a related sector namely, the education of medical students.

This essay also intends to explore of its implications in the Medical and Healthcare Sector, where this is bound to have life-altering consequences. In fact, it will not be an understatement to say that it will change the face of Education of the Medical Students world over, and in the entire learning process. As everything has its own pros and cons, so does video streaming and so, we discuss the uses of streaming video in an online educational environment and also its risks and benefits. This essay also establishes the possibility of worldwide telemedical facilities and developments that might be instrumental in saving many lives in the near future.


The arena of information technology has witnessed great advances over the past couple of years. Life has become more interactive and closer, due to the many technological marvels, resulting in the world becoming a global village (Ess, Sudweeks and Herring, 2001). Recent progress in the areas of networking and computing technology has now made it possible to easily broadcast video and audio over the World Wide Web (WWW), and thereby making the world, smaller. Quite literally, people from opposite ends of the world could see videos, hear audios and talk to each other without any hassles and at a minimum cost.

One such method of broadcasting audios and videos is referred to as Streaming Technology. Streaming video is essentially material sent in a compressed format over the Internet and viewed by the user in real time. However, the main difference is that the content need not be downloaded completely in order for the user to view it. As a result, there is no wastage of time and resources by video streaming (Author Unknown, TechTarget Aug 2009).

Video Streaming is now being used extensively in a wide variety of applications. My interest in video streaming pertains to the Medical Field owing to the impact it can have on the future of mankind and its survival. For instance, it is most effective in providing medical students, the relevant subject knowledge at the convenience of the student. Such flexibility in learning is highly essential nowadays due to busy schedules and higher demands made on the medical practitioners. The most affected are the hassled medical students, as an increased emphasis on clinical practice and research has left the medical teaching fraternity with very limited time to deal with the mounting pressures of teaching (Bridge et al., 2009).

Some other uses of video streaming include its usage by surgeons and general practitioners for a more thorough analysis of the patient and provide appropriate treatment, without any flaws. Streaming video live from the operating room has now been made possible by means of exceptionally high quality digital videos being transmitted by robotics, computing and telecommunications to the audience for discussion and enlightened learning (Rafiq et al, 2004).

A more widely used and well known application of video streaming is within the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. The NHS website comprises of a number of collated video clips and short films, most of them of patients and clinicians talking of their experiences within the NHS. These serve as a learning tool for those who seek to benefit from other's familiarity with the NHS and utilize it to the very best. (NHS, 2009)

In a nutshell, this essay attempts to discuss the various methodologies involved in streaming videos and multimedia, in general. It aims to scrutinize the advantages and disadvantages, risks and benefits of video streaming as a learning tool in the niche field of Medicine. It also challenges to propose unconventional uses, which may be implemented in practice over time-laden improvements.


The aim of this literature review is to gather information regarding Video Streaming and its various applications as well as to give a general overview about the topic based on the information available on the present literature.

"Video Streaming (also known as webcasting) refers to video that is stored on the web and available at any time for users to view." (Jones et al., 2006)

In other words, video streaming refers to multimedia that are constantly sent and received through a service provider. For this purpose, the user will require a special program that uncompresses the data and send the video data to the display screen and the audio data to the speakers. Content needs to be recorded in a digital manner and stored onto a web server (Bennett and Glover, 2008). It can be both, live events such as lectures and sport commentaries and recorded events. Live streaming is adopted mainly to reach out to a world-wide audience and to give an experience as close to being physically present (Cunningham and Francis 2001)


According to (Hashmi and Guvenli, 2001),

"Improved streaming and compression technologies along with broadband connections are major forces behind the growth of multimedia applications on e-business, education, entertainment and other websites."

Video streaming in itself is an entertainment, but it supports or adds on to the existing materials, enriches and boosts the entire learning experience of the user due to its wide - reaching expansions. Several applications of Video Streaming are discussed below.


Streamed video has many uses such as

  • e-Learning Higher Education in Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, Economics, Sciences (Bennett and Glover, 2008)
  • availability of digitized courses and archival materials in e-Libraries
  • presence of Virtual Learning Environments like Moodle, Blackboard which are web-based course management systems that complements face-to-face teaching and have inbuilt audios and videos for greater understanding (LTC Salford, Nov 2009)
  • Surveillance Systems:

    Video Streaming has a wide assortment of uses for surveillance purposes alone such as:

    • actively used by Shop Owners to keep an eye on their businesses.
    • applied to control traffic to maintain smooth flow of vehicles. (Srinivasan et al., 2004)
    • installed at airports and sensitive places as part of face-recognition programs on video surveillance cameras and also to speed up the border crossing system by using photo biometrics.
    • employed at homes as 'Nanny Cams' by working parents for keeping an eye on nannies with their children.
    • used to track missing children, registered sex offenders, abductors etc. (Video Surveillance Guide, 2009)

    Legal Proceedings:

    Legal Proceedings can now be viewed by the public thereby making the justice system more transparent and justifiable. Downloading of archival videos and oral arguments of court proceedings are also being allowed. Some examples of legal proceedings are elucidated as follows:

    • The Florida Supreme Court has been a pioneer of broadcasting legal proceedings since 1997 (Ross and Jacobus, 2000)
    • In 2006, New York Supreme Court made use of Courtroom Connect, a principal supplier of advanced telecommunication catering to the legal industry, to broadcast legal proceedings to viewers in real time to handle the crowd overflow within the courthouse, minimize chaos and increase efficiency (Courtroom Connect, Aug 2006)

    Astronomy - The Mars Pathfinder Mission:

    It was used by NASA in July 1997, as part of a fast-track low-cost highly goal-oriented mission, aimed specifically at completing a high-resolution 360 degree image of the landing site called the Super Pan. Within the nearly 3-month span, Mars Pathfinder returned nearly 2.6 billion bits of information, including 16,550 images from the lander and rover, 15 chemical analyses of rocks and extensive data on weather factors. The mission was very successful in returning huge amounts of data on Mars and also for operating nearly 3 times more than its prediction. (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, Nov 1997)

    Film Making:

    File formats such as Windows Movie Maker and Real Player are simple and easy to use, which also facilitate making movies clips, documentaries, small advertisements etc. Once a video is shot, it can be uploaded onto the software, fine- tuned and finally uploaded to popular video sharing websites such as YouTube and Flickr.

    Business Development & Customer Service Delivery:

    Employing live streaming creates a unique and interactive experience for the customer and has benefits such as:

    • Creating new customers and repeat business
    • Encourages people to establish a dialogue
    • creates awareness and the message tends to passed over to friends and others
    • Improves the online search engine ranking of the website
    • Cuts employee training costs
    • Using conferencing, telepresence and desktop conferencing (Elizondo, 2009)

    Healthcare and Medical industry:

    Video streaming is creating new boundaries in the medical field by:

    • Using video conferencing in Remote surgery (Rafiq et al., 2004)
    • Aids training of medical students and nurses in the practical application (Bennett and Glover, 2008)

    Thus a synopsis of the various applications of Video Streaming was explained.


    The relevance of Video Streaming within the Healthcare and Medical Industry forms the mainstay of this essay. Not only is Streaming video useful for budding medical students and professionals, it is also being increasingly used in the annals of surgery rooms and for future research and development in the form of archives. Its various applications are explored as follows:

    Video Streaming as e-learning for Medical Studies:

    The emergence of the 21st century has altered the education system beyond recognition. Imparting education has moved on from being merely lectures to a more-rounded learning process that extends to studying with additional resources at one's comfort and pace. Particular to the Medical industry, is an increased emphasis on research and clinical practice which has resulted in less faculty time and new demands on administrators in the delivery of medical school curriculum. The projected physician shortage by 2020 provides added pressure for medical schools to increase enrollment creating new challenges. (Bridge et al., 2009)

    A suitable solution for this challenge has been the emergence of e-learning as a potentially useful learning mechanism. According to Zhang et al., (2004), "E-learning can be defined as technology-based learning in which learning materials are delivered electronically to remote learners via a computer network". In the view of Albarraks (2007), "E-learning systems are educational systems that utilize information technology resources such as the Internet, networking, and multimedia applications to enhance the learning process". This is especially a boon for long-distance students.

    Several types of e-learning include:

    • Multimedia Learning: includes text, graphics, animation, audio, video in the content
    • Blended Learning: combination of e-learning technology with traditional instructor-led training (Ruiz et al., 2006)

    About three categories of e-learning in Medical Studies can be determined:

    • Online learning modules, sessions and self-assessment tests
    • A discussion board for the exchange of opinions amongst peers, lecturers and colleagues
    • Partnership enabling students to work in groups

    A ideal demonstration of the effects of video streaming on undergraduate medical education is evident from the following 5-year retrospective study, conducted on three groups of students in the Wayne State University of Medicine, Detroit, USA. The aim of the study was to analyse the viability of streaming video in the Year 1-2 basic science curriculum as associated with the overall scores for First time test-takers. The three groups were:

    • First Cohort - no access to streaming video technology
    • Second Cohort - had access in Year 2 alone.
    • Third Cohort - had access in both Years 1 and 2.

    By means of a suitable non-parametric testing method, the results were analysed, indicating a significant difference between the Cohorts, with scores rising slightly from First Cohort to Third Cohort. From a practical standpoint, this study therefore, provides evidence of an all-rounded learning process for students over time (Bridge et al., 2009). Thus the significance of video streaming in medical education has been elucidated.

    Video Streaming for Use in Remote & Virtual Surgery:

    Rapid advancements in the field of Multimedia and its related applications, in the 21st century, such as Video Streaming have revolutionized Surgical Education. It involves integrating live video streams over considerable distances within the Operating Rooms to perform surgery upon patients and to transmit the same for clear-cut learning by medical students.

    Earlier, the only technique to learn surgical skills was by directly participating in the Operating Room (OR) with the Senior Surgeons. Also, the only way for consulting surgeons and medical practitioners was in person, with the concerned individuals being inside the OR. However, there are several disadvantages such as the presence of physical equipment within the OR which tends to narrow down the line-of-sight of the surgeons. Moreover, it is nearly impossible for the medical students to really benefit due to a very limited field of view (Rafiq et al., 2004).

    Thus, several purposes for which video streaming can be used effectively in the field of Virtual Surgeries are:

    • Effective telementoring now allows interactive mentoring between physically distant locations and the surgeon in the OR, thus creating an educational environment for the students as well as with fellow physicians for further consultation (Satava, 2001)
    • The use of robots, computer-assisted and image-guided systems for minimally invasive surgeries is another development. Synchronous collaboration allows trainees to gain knowledge, experience, and develop surgical judgment with judicious use of faculty time and broad access to specific surgical procedures (Rafiq et al., 2004)
    • Virtual Reality (VR) Simulators that perfect a psychomotor skill and integrate it into the educational process. When placed in a context of a suitable educational curriculum, it is used to develop evaluation metrics and is ultimately incorporated into the certification process (Satava, 2001).

    Thus a paradigm shift is occurring day-by-day in the Healthcare and Medical Industry owing to compelling developments in Video Streaming.


    Video streaming is extremely beneficial for Healthcare and Medical practitioners, as it involves information collaboration, dissemination and learning. It is imperative to analyse the advantages, disadvantages, risks and benefits to utilize this online revolution to the maximum and in the most judicious manner. Each of these aspects is explored as follows:


    The positive vibes which are felt by the users of video streaming include its:

    • Flexibility - suitable for different compatibility levels of students (Seng and Hok, 2003). According to Garrison (2001) "Streaming media is video-on-demand. Each viewer receives a stream uniquely directed to his or her computer. No other person views exactly the same stream in exactly the same way at the same time. It can be a uniquely tailored experience".
    • Interactivity - via video conferencing and discussion boards (Giroire et al., 2006). According to Garrison (2001) "'Web surfing' describes the process of following one link after another and choosing a unique pathway reflecting individual tastes and preferences".
    • In Telemedicine, it is possible to give medical advice even from very remote sites (Halm et al., 2007). It also eliminates the need to have very sophisticated equipment in remote hospitals as there is mutual sharing of patient's records. Additionally, teleconferencing amongst doctors ensures knowledge sharing and educating medical students simultaneously.
    • Learners' satisfaction - rates increase with e-learning compared to traditional learning, along with perceived ease of use and access, navigation, interactivity, and user-friendly interface design (Gibbons and Fairweather, 2000)
    • Cost effectiveness - There is a significant cost savings in e-learning as demonstrated in one study that showed that the creation and dissemination of e-learning content was less costly that giving out materials. (Chumley-Jones et al., 2002). This can be very beneficial to the learning process of the students.

    As there are two sides of a coin, we also have some disadvantages that are discussed as below:


    The major issues that may hinder the widespread use of video streaming are:

    • Transmission Rate: ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), which is a service network using telephone lines, cannot be used for telemedicine as there is a reduction in video stream data despite good network use. (Hahm et al., 2007)
    • Noise: Low noise and speed may occur frequently resulting in dropped video frames, distortion of images and can result in serious problems, such as loss of data, image hang-up and complete arrest of image streaming (Hahm et al., 2007). This can be a risk especially where sensitive data usage is concerned.
    • Lack of immediate feedback: Although sophisticated technology is a useful method of transmitting content, it does serve the purpose of helping students clarify doubts if they are unable to understand.(McKinney and Page, 2008)
    • Bandwidth: Sometimes users won't have the required bandwidth to receive streaming video at an acceptable quality (Neilson, 1999)

    Despite its potential risks, the advantages far outshine the disadvantages thereby making for a wholesome learning process by the use of video streaming.


    Streaming video is a technology that is starting to have widespread effects in the Medical and Healthcare Industry. It provides a continuous medium of learning and education throughout one's academic and outside life, thereby facilitating a more exciting learning environment for online learning and teaching. Streaming video stimulates the learner's visual and olfactory senses and makes them more receptive to the information. There are several applications of video streaming right from education to rocket science to medicine, with more uses being discovered each passing day.

    Additionally, it is vital to consider the advantages and disadvantages of video streaming, although its benefits far outweigh the risks. Information Technology is an ever-expanding field and it is therefore never stagnant in its development, particularly in multimedia. Much is to be gained by the use of video streaming, especially in the field of medicine and advances in future will include complete control of the surgery by means of robotics. Conclusively speaking, video streaming is booming in all aspects and is here to stay.


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